EBU Warns Terrestrial DTV Threatened by Mobile Phone Services in Broadcast Bands

The European Broadcast Union (EBU) is concerned about some of the spectrum allocations being discussed at WRC-07.

The European Broadcast Union (EBU) is concerned about some of the spectrum allocations being discussed at WRC-07 (see the WRC-07 article in this week’s RF Report). The EBU is concerned the future of digital TV could be threatened if mobile phones are allowed to use UHF bands IV and V (470-862 MHz). Item 1.4 on the WRC-07 agenda, concerning identification of frequency bands for international mobile telecommunications (IMT) services, such as 3G UMTS mobile phones, lists these bands, which are currently used for TV broadcasting, as spectrum under consideration for the service in ITU Region 1. ITU Region 1 includes Europe, Africa, and parts of the Middle East.

“In many European countries, digital terrestrial TV in these bands has already become a major success based on the availability of free-to-air TV services,” said Lieven Vermaele, EBU technical director. “However, this success story could be jeopardized by the introduction of mobile phone services in broadcasting frequency bands.”

U.S. broadcasters have become aware of the threat other services sharing broadcast spectrum can pose to DTV reception. The EBU warned that interference to analog TV typically appears as obtrusive patterns in the picture, while interference to DTV can result in a complete blank screen, which would be unacceptable to consumers.

EBU pointed to a recent study conducted by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) that highlighted the problem of potential interference between mobile phones and TV services. CEPT said additional studies are needed and consideration of mobile service allocations in the UHF TV bands should be deferred until the next WRC in 2011.

Vermaele agreed, stating, “We urge ITU to wait and study the options before making any decision on band sharing. In 2011 the picture will be much clearer.”

EBU noted that while the shutdown of analog TV will free up some spectrum, the amount of spectrum available will vary from country to country depending on several factors, including topography, requirements for regional services and spectrum usage in adjacent countries. Prior to the shutdown of analog TV, broadcasters will require access to all of Bands IV and V to achieve the transition from analog to digital and deployment of mobile TV and HDTV.